NEW YORK • The Miss America pageant is dropping the swimsuit and evening gown segments of the beauty contest, and will no longer judge contestants on their physical appearance, organisers announced yesterday.
"We're changing out of our swimsuits and into a whole new era #byebyebikini," @MissAmericaOrg said in a tweet which featured a bikini vanishing in a puff of smoke.
Ms Gretchen Carlson, the chairman of Miss America's board of trustees, outlined the changes to the 2019 contest on ABC's Good Morning America programme.
"We are no longer a pageant," said Ms Carlson, who won the 1989 Miss America contest and went on to become an anchor at Fox News. "We are a competition."
She added: "We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance. That's huge."
Ms Carlson said that both the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the nearly century-old competition would be scrapped.
"It is going to be what comes out of their mouths that we are interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives," she said of the contestants from all 50 states.
"We want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships."
Ms Carlson said organisers had "heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We'd love to be a part of your programme, but we don't want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit'".
"So guess what, you don't have to do that any more," she said.
It was not immediately clear whether the changes at Miss America would cause smaller pageants to follow its lead. Swimsuits have been synonymous with Miss America since 1921, when the first competition was held in Atlantic City.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES